Good morning from the White House press room...
It is difficult to overstate the significance of last night's dramatic health care showdown in the House of Representatives. Capping a year of debate, divisiveness, anger and confrontation, the 219-212 vote lays the foundation for what would be the biggest transformation of the American health care system in decades. It is also likely to be the one achievement that, for better or worse, ultimately defines the legacy of the Obama administration.
"We proved that we are a people capable of doing big things," the President said in a late-night appearance in the White House East Room. "This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction."
Mr. Obama added: "This is what change looks like."
Not yet. Tuesday, the Senate takes up revisions to the legislation approved by the House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he has enough votes to keep the Republicans from derailing the Democratic train - though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to do just that, with what Obama last night called "another siege of parliamentary maneuvering."
As Senate Republicans review the reconciliation bill, one - New Hampshire's Judd Gregg - has identified at least one provision that he thinks could bring the entire bill crashing down. Gregg, who sits on the Budget Committee, thinks that a new tax on high-cost insurance policies would violate reconciliation rules by impacting the Social Security trust fund.
But Reid says Democrats will be able to keep the train moving along. Assuming this is so, the Senate will approve the House revisions - setting the stage for a historic bill signing by Mr. Obama this week. Look for this to happen not in the Rose Garden, but in the far grander confines of the East Room, where historic legislation is often signed, such as Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Act of 1964.
And what IS that change anyway? This is what the bill intends to do, courtesy of the unbiased fact-checkers at Politifact.com, which has checked hundreds of claims about health care reform and selected 10 facts that you should know:
1. "The plan is not a government takeover of health care like in Canada or Britain."
2. "Insurance companies will be regulated more heavily. They will be told the minimum services they must cover, including preventive care. They will have to pay out a certain percentage of premiums for patient care. By 2014, when the exchanges open, insurers won't be able to deny customers for pre-existing conditions."
3. "Everyone will have to have health insurance or pay a fine, a requirement known as the individual mandate."
4. "Employers will not be required to buy insurance for their employees, but large employers may be subject to fines if they don't provide insurance."
5. "The vast majority of people will not see significant declines in premiums."
6. "The plan might or might not bend the curve on health spending."
7. "The government-run Medicare program will keep paying medical bills for seniors, but it will begin implementing cost controls on health care providers, mostly through penalties and incentives."
8. "Medicaid, a joint federal-state program for the poor, will cover all of the poor, instead of just a few groups the way it currently does."
9. "The government won't pay for elective abortions."
10. "No one is proposing new benefits for illegal immigrants."
There are more details for each of these ten points. Go to Politifact.com for more. It's in their "Truth-O-Meter" section. Leave yous bias, pro or con, at the door.
As for the President's schedule today, it is light, with just one item - an 11:30 session with his senior advisors - on the schedule. Obama was supposed to have been in Asia this week, so the West Wing schedulers are filling in the calendar. There is talk the president will meet Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
10:00AM Pool Call Time
11:30AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
12:30PM Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
On This Day
1933: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act, which levied a federal tax on alcohol to raise money for the federal government.
"A president's hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right."
- Lyndon B. Johnson